LACKLUSTRE BUZZARDS SUDDENLY FIND TOP GEAR
LEIGHTON BUZZARD 35 – 0 LONG BUCKBY
Leighton Buzzard retained top spot of Midlands 2 East (South) league with a bonus point victory against Long Buckby. However this was far from a straightforward victory – Leighton’s first half performance was riddled with errors and, with the ball frequently knocked on or kicked away, there was little continuity in Buzzards’ play. Suddenly, just around the hour mark, it all clicked into place with an eight-minute, three-try burst to defeat a doughty Long Buckby team.
Buzzards kicked off downhill and immediately put the visitors under pressure. However this was short-lived and for much of the first quarter of the match, it was Long Buckby who looked sharper. The visitors would have taken the lead but for a brilliant try-saving tackle from Arran Perry after 15 minutes. Slowly Buzzards began to look more threatening but whilst the pack was dominating in the scrum, the lineout was malfunctioning and handling was unsure.
However pressure was building and finally, after thirty minutes, the deadlock was broken following a well-worked move in the backs. Fly-half Lee Walker dummied and then gave a beautifully timed pop-pass to Jack Whitehouse. The captain celebrated his birthday with an untouched stroll under the posts. Walker converted to put Buzzard 7-0 ahead, which remained the score to half-time.
The first ten minutes of the second-half were dominated by Buzzards but a string of handing errors and poor decision-making had led to a palpable sense of frustration both on the pitch and in the crowd. Harri Sayer came close to scoring in the corner, and Arran Perry was adjudged to have knocked on as he attempted to ground the ball. The dominant Buzzard scrum was now winning the ball against the head, with the front row of Russell Orr Burns, Ashley Walsh and Jon Henkes outstanding. Whilst this prevented Long Buckby from clearing their lines, a succession of handling errors meant Leighton failed to take advantage.
Finally the dam broke, with another backs move putting Arran Perry under the posts. Lee Walker converted for 14-0. Now with the frustration gone, Buzzards suddenly began to play like league leaders with a cutting edge in attack that appears unmatched at this level. Euan Irwin and James Brett combined for a super move from inside their half, although unfortunately the try-scoring switch pass was dropped. It scarcely mattered as shortly afterwards, Euan Irwin carved through under the posts. Two minutes later Irwin, who was now appearing everywhere, made the break for Jack Whitehouse to score. With James Brett converting both, Buzzards were now 28-0 ahead and had secured the four-try bonus point.
There remained time for both Ed Taylor and Jacob Murtagh to be given yellow cards so that for a five minute spell Leighton were down to thirteen men. However whilst the game was already won there was an absolute determination that the Leighton line would not be crossed. Not only that, but whilst two men down, Buzzards scored a contender for try of the season. Breaking from their own twenty –two, with both Arran Perry and Euan Irwin prominent, the ball passed through many hands before fullback Harri Sayer scored. Again James Brett converted to leave the final score 35-0.
Five excellent tries, a completely dominant performance in the scrum, an unbreached defence and a bonus point win are all huge positives. However at times in the first half Buzzards were as poor as they have been for some time – they need to cut the handling errors and penalty count and be more patient if plans do not immediately come to fruition.
Next week Buzzards travel to Rugby to play Old Laurentians in the quarter final of the Midlands Intermediate Cup before returning to league action the following week with a tricky looking fixture away at fifth-placed Market Bosworth.